Visual Semiotics Research Questions: Week 6

1.) In many various examples of artwork, there are often present and hidden signs and examples of semiotics within the work. Sometimes these signs can be noted right away, and others must be gained from understanding the underlying story that artwork tells, the historical time, the feelings of the artist, and the list goes on. If semiotics is a “science which studies the role of signs as a part of social life,” what are better ways to figuring out what particular roles of signs are, if the signs are not necessarily outwardly present? In other words, if there is a hidden sign we aren’t aware is there but that we should be pursuing, how do we decode this sign?

2.) In the Chandler reading, I found it interesting how the writer explained how language was important, if not the most crucial part into understanding semiotics. He then goes into the explanation of double articulation and uses the example of the English language to explain that the “language only has 4-50 elements of double articulation, yet can generate hundreds of thousands of words. It is by combining words in multiple ways that we can seek to render the particularity of experience. It is argued that works like film, photography, and painting, all semiotic systems, have this double articulation. My question is in understanding this idea of double articulation, how can it be argued that it doesn’t exist in art or film. If there are multiple ways we can seek to render an experience, then works of art should illicit multiple different feelings and experiences towards a particular piece, correct? Or is there one experience that the artist is looking to get from the audience, and any other experience or feeling is proved to be not truly understanding the work; yes or no?

3.) What is a sign to one person versus another? Who decides who can understanding the underlying semiotics and signs of a work? The artist? The native language of the person? The culture background? The museum? The placement of the work? What influences a person to understanding the signs?

4.) Who decides what is considered art or a symbol? There are hundreds if not thousands of museums throughout the world, each with pieces carefully curated and placed with a particular reason in mind. However, who or what decides what is a symbol of something? Who tells us that something is art? Is it the culture we are born in? The underlying symbols? The feelings it illicit or the lack of feelings? Something that stands out is Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain.” It was rejected by the Society of Independent Artists for not being “art” because it was not created by Duchamp’s own hands. But who decides what makes the cut and what doesn’t? Why do some pieces make it into the glossy museums, and others like my own kindergarten abstract mobiles are fated for a life stuffed in a box in my parents basement?